Published On: Fri, Oct 2nd, 2020

All about ovarian cysts

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We often hear about cysts and tumors, which are often medical problems, sometimes serious. But, what about ovarian cysts? Are they normal? More than half of women who have an ultrasound will have at least one cyst on the ovary. But, is this an alarming finding?

Are ovarian cysts normal?

Ovarian cysts are common, but not always normal. Whether they are normal or not will depend, in many cases, such as the menstrual cycle, the size of the cyst, the symptoms it causes, and the number of cysts.

Within the normal menstrual cycle, ovarian cysts are helpful in helping the egg grow. Then the same cyst from which the mature egg comes out stays in the ovary and begins to release hormones. This is completely normal and happens every month until menopause. These cyclical ovarian changes are modified with pregnancy and lactation.

However, ovarian cysts sometimes cause severe pelvic pain when they are disproportionately large. In these cases, the cysts may not be normal. It is also important to differentiate normal cysts from polycystic ovaries.

Functional ovarian cysts vs. Polycystic ovary syndrome

In the polycystic ovary, the entire surface of the ovaries is filled with cysts. There may be several normal cysts before ovulation, but there are usually not many.

If there are more than 12 cysts in the ovary, the diagnosis of polycystic ovary should already be considered. These are generally between 2 and 9 mm and increase the size of the ovary.

Currently, although we do not obtain a highly suggestive polycystic ovary ultrasound, it does not mean that the patient is not a carrier. Doctors have to trust the clinic and laboratory tools and make the diagnosis.

Common complications of cysts

Even normal ovarian cysts can go through some complications. The most common are cyst rupture and ovarian torsion.

  • Cyst rupture: it generally occurs in larger cysts. When ruptured, the cyst causes severe pain in the pelvis, and it may bleed. Usually, the process resolves on its own, but it leaves very annoying symptoms.
  • Ovarian torsion: when the cysts are large or there are many, the ovary increases in size. This increase causes the ovary to move out of place, and can sometimes cause a torsion. In these cases, the pain is more intense and may require surgery. Fortunately, it is not very common.

Can ovarian cysts be prevented?

Ovarian cysts can appear naturally in the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy. They can also be due to a hormonal problem,

However, even when correcting problems, ovarian cysts can appear. Instead of preventing them, we recommend that you undergo frequent studies with a professional to evaluate them, follow up, and avoid complications.

Thanks to Dr. Elsa Díaz Lopez, obstetrician-gynecologist, who reviewed and verified this article. She studied Obstetrics-Gynecology at Anahuac University. She has 28 years of medical experience and specializes in Colposcopy, Laparoscopic Surgery, HPV, Vaccination, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Laser Surgery, and Bioethics.


  1. Mayo Clinic



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